| 8.1°C Dublin

A great chance to appreciate a true Irish colossus

Close

George Bernard Shaw:
a true Renaissance man

George Bernard Shaw: a true Renaissance man

George Bernard Shaw: a true Renaissance man

• As the article on George Bernard Shaw (Irish Independent, May 26) highlighted, GBS was a true Renaissance man -- a man of letters who wrote more plays than Shakespeare; an arts critic; an ardent socialist with a keen interest in politics; an arch polemicist; a keen and prolific amateur photographer; a standard-bearer for the rights of the poor and the oppressed; a co-founder of the world renowned London School of Economics; and -- the subject of your article -- a man with a fascination for boxing and a frequent correspondence and close friendship with Gene Tunney, former undefeated heavyweight champion of the world (1926-1928).

Shaw certainly lived up to the title of one of his classic plays, 'Man and Superman'. He was the only person to receive both a Nobel Prize and an Oscar for his work.

However, Shaw was a reluctant recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, as this typically Shavian comment surely attests: "I can forgive Alfred Nobel for having invented dynamite, but only a fiend could have invented the Nobel Prize."

It took his wife's persuasion (she thought it would be a tribute to Ireland) for him finally to accept the award (although he refused the prize money, suggesting it should be used to translate Swedish books into English!).

And while he received that Oscar (for the film of his play 'Pygmalion'), he refused to have musical adaptations of his plays after his horror on seeing 'The Chocolate Soldier' (loosely based on his play, 'Arms and the Man'). 'My Fair Lady' was only produced after his death!

As President Michael D Higgins's eulogy suggested at the opening of the 'GB Shaw: Back in Town' conference, Shaw was truly "one of Ireland's and Dublin's most illustrious sons". It is fitting that he is the subject of this first international conference to be held in this country.

For those who want to find out more about this true Irish colossus, Shaw is one of the stars of an exhibition entitled 'Dublin Writers: Born Here; Lived Here, Wished We Were Here", which is part of Dublin's Unesco City of Literature and is running in City Hall. You can even check out Shaw's "green" credentials -- he constructed a rotating shed which followed the sun and required no artificial light or heat, an eco-friendly den where he wrote many of his master works.

Mark Lawler & John Gallagher
Liberties Heritage Association, Carman's Hall, Dublin 8

Irish Independent